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Summer means it’s time to…GET WILD at WETLANDS

Opening weekend at Wetlands Water Park in Jonesborough took off like a cannonball splash. “We did really well. Saturday we brought in about $6,500, and Sunday was good as well, about $5,500,” said Rachel Conger, director of Parks and Recreation. “Monday was a little bit slower with overcast skies and the drizzly day, but we were real happy with opening weekend.”
Last year’s cool start to the summer gave Wetlands very little momentum over Memorial Day weekend. So, Conger and her staff were especially glad to see so many warm, bathing suited bodies come out to play this year, despite troubled economic times.
The park has a few improvements to offer that will enhance the experience for all swimmers, waders and water sliders. Walls were repainted, shrubbery was replaced and a new heater was installed in the pool.
“The water park sits right there in that valley between two ridges and especially in the mornings, and at night when it’s cooler, the water temperature drops.”
The heater was purchased to help customers splash and slide more comfortably. “That’s a service to our patrons. It’s an upgrade, especially for our regulars and pass-holders, who continue to come through the years,” Conger explained. “The first month of the summer the water is not real warm, and we get so many kids in there, especially the smaller ones the colder temperatures bother them. It also helps when we have some lessons in the morning around eight o’clock, when it’s pretty chilly outside.”
The park will also feature different games and group activities each Friday as part of their Fantastic Fridays program.
Wetlands is launching a promotion that will offer a set of summer-worn parents an oasis in the fall.
“We’re giving away two tickets for a cruise,” said Conger. “They announce a name on the radio (WCQR) every morning, and that person has a certain amount of time to call in, and if they call back in (on time) they get a rubber duck.
At the end of the summer they bring all these ducks to the water park to essentially race down the Lazy River, and whoever’s duck crosses the finish line first gets the tickets.”
Ticket prices for children and senior citizens will be the same as last year, but adult ticket prices have increased slightly to offset the rising cost of operating the park.
“We really wanted to stay away from increasing the child ticket rates, because we do have so many kids that come there. So, we felt that by just raising the adult tickets we served the purpose of offsetting our rising costs, but we hope that won’t have such a huge impact on families,” Conger said.
Operating a water park may look simple, but, like every other business, the cost of keeping the doors open just keeps growing.
“The chemical costs have really dramatically increased over the past few years, and minimum wage has gone up – for the past three years it’s gone up,” Conger said. “So, when you’ve got a hundred employees it really hits you hard.”
However, by keeping children’s ticket prices low, offering group discounts and featuring half-price admission after 3 p.m. every day Conger hopes to help Wetlands keep its appeal as a wholesome and affordable opportunity for lots of fun in the summertime.